Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Focus on Fluids

The making of a splash

S. T. Thoroddsena1 c1

a1 Division of Physical Sciences & Engineering and Clean Combustion Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia


The splash resulting from the impact of a drop onto a pool is a particularly beautiful manifestation of a canonical problem, where a mass of fluid breaks up into smaller pieces. Despite over a century of experimental study, the splashing mechanics have eluded full description, the details often being obscured by the very rapid motions and small length scales involved. Zhang et al. (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 690, 2012, pp. 5–15) introduce a powerful new tool to the experimental arsenal, when they apply X-ray imaging to study the fine ejecta sheets which emerge during the earliest contact of the drop. Their images reveal hidden details and complex underlying dynamics, which will directly affect the size and velocity of the splashing droplets.